camp | ups and downs: not just for trampolines.

Part of me has always wanted to be a camp counsellor. Two summers ago, I spent a week at camp as a one-to-one support provider. And there’s a part of me that, yes, was right before going into that: there is a lot of emotional stamina needed to invest in the kids you are leading 24-hours-a-day, and sometimes, it is hard to have that stamina all day. To be able to pour into campers in a meaningful, patient, intentional way all.day.long.

When I saw a posting for a “camp coach” position at a sports day camp for ten-to-fourteen-year-olds with autism, I didn’t hesitate much to apply. I quickly heard back, chatted with the camp director on the phone, we met to talk (remember, my interviews never really end up being interviews properly) at a Tim Horton’s, and here we are a few weeks later, the night before the last day of camp.

Day camp is way more my thing, probably, than overnight camp. I shadow-ish a camper all day, I rotate campers every day, and we have fun. Mostly. Sometimes I feel like I’ve had successes, sometimes I feel like I do not know nearly enough to do this job. I’m learning. I alternate between “it’s only a week” and “I can’t believe there’s only one day left, it’s gone so fast”. The week was packed. I think today might have been the least packed day and really not even because we went to the trampoline park this morning.

I played dodgeball on a trampoline today. I bowled with the other coaches and totally lost with a 91. With bumpers. My camper from day 1 ended up being my camper for half of day 2, and proceeded to call me a monster both days, except he also hugged me because he was so excited about how awesome the bowling alley was. My camper today resisted a lot and then suddenly became a whirlwind of engagement towards the end of the day. I’ve argued. I don’t really argue in a way that is convincing, probably. Come into the gym for two minutes and see what’s going on, just two minutes. You have another minute left to play Lego. I played laser tag for the first time (I was 28 out of 29. I’m a professional). I’ve high fived campers for giving compliments to one another unassisted. One of my Special Olympics athletes is a camper this week, and I’ve had the joy of seeing him smile as he calls “Hi Kerri!” to me whenever I walk by. I played beanbag toss with my camper today for a long time after he tried so hard to get another camper to play with him, they just weren’t interested (it’s really challenging when all the kids have all these goals they want to/should complete and yet are supposed to engage with other campers to check the stuff off their lists. I’ve watched campers practice asking one another to play, practice complimenting each other, help prepare lunch, and test themselves. I’ve watched them be happy and sad and angry and jealous. Food has been thrown and hits have been thrown—and not just in Tae Kwon Do yesterday—and toys have been thrown and things that are meant to be thrown have been thrown. My camper on Monday was surprisingly fond of Shapes (the fitness centre). Camp songs have been sung. Hello, my name is Joe, and I work in a button factory. I’ve got a wife, two kids and a dog, woof. One day my boss says “Joe, are you busy man,” I say “No, man,” He said “Push this button with your right hand. Non camp songs have been sung. Call Me Maybe?! My team got second place in a cup stacking/design tournament and we talked about good sportsmanship again. I’ve felt connected and disconnected and frustrated and elated.

And I still don’t know if it’s for me, but you know what? I’ll never know if I don’t try and I’ll never learn how to be better if I don’t try either. So, one more day, I’ll keep trying. It could be the least or most challenging day yet. And I won’t find out until I jump in there one more time, and give’r. Because hopefully this week teaches the campers a handful of the things it’s teaching me.

At least tomorrow my camper is not taller than me. Unless he grows a foot overnight, anyways—and I might not even allow myself to be surprised by that. Guess it’s called Adventure Camp for a reason. Oh, and if there’s a place to forget to take my Concerta, I guess a camp is a pretty good place—even better when your brain can switch gears as quickly as the campers’.

A camper also told me the pink space car I made out of Lego looked like it was out of Cloud Cuckoo Land from The Lego Movie.

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I’m not sure I see it anywhere:

But hey, it seems fitting. Pink fun and all.

Also I found this kind of disturbing .gif. While I’ll leave you with. Because WTF.

dinosaur and ronald mcdonald beat up batman, lego version. underneath caption reads

a season to be well.

A season.

Lower portion of tree with lake behind it

Another, to be well. To become well. To realize anew that this is not a passive act–I can exist, or I can live well and be fulfilled. And these fulfilled seasons are the ones I remember. The ones where I know myself and where I am headed and maybe even feel connected to the One who is coauthoring this story with me–the same God that Jenny Simmons refers to, in her book The Road to Becoming, as the Storyteller.  I am here to live a story, not a passivity.

I wasn’t looking
I wasn’t ready
kicking and screaming
tired of believing by myself
I never would have done it on my own.
oh but You,
You were never gonna let me go
You took me

straight to the Healer
You were my believer
when I couldn’t even see it for myself
and now I’m whole, I can feel it
now I can see it when I couldn’t even say it for myself
You said “it’s time to be well”

no man’s an island
we need each other
no use in hiding
no pain in lying to myself
cause I don’t have to do this on my own
with You, I don’t have to walk this road alone

You tore a hole in the roof and You laid me down
just to make me well, just to make me well
You tore a hole in the roof and You laid me down
…and He made me well, and He made me well.

–time to be well, jenny simmons 

Yes, I’ve lost time by circumstances out of my control. Yes, I’ve (even worse) neglected time. But these are chapters in my story, too. Just, the next one(s), I’d like to write more intentionally; explore plot lines deeper, know characters more thoroughly–connect with myself, my circumstances, and the people around me, playing important parts in this story as well as their own stories. In this next chapter I want to embrace the chaos through interacting with it. To work on embracing the moments as they come and appreciating the little things. To be grateful. To own my mistakes and say sorry. To practice more self-care and define what that looks like for me, and begin yet again to work at feeling things and feeling better in all ways: I know from experience I am happiest and feel best when I connect with myself in ways that don’t let my mind and body and spirit exist separately, but together. Things like exercise and meditation and how physical activity especially helps to make my ADHD a strength rather than another source of struggle, how both of the above allow me to use my brain and body in tandem rather than simply as vehicles for one another. And, as for the Storyteller, yes, it’s challenging myself to dig in to this act of spirituality as well. After years of struggle with this, I had a realization today, after I’d been toying with a little more interest in the Bible the last few days. I’ve always been candid that I do not believe in infallibility of the bible, yet attending church in previous seasons caused me to be frustrated by this fact–because I was supposed to believe everything in there and I didn’t. Today, I realized while reading The Road to Becoming: “What if I stop looking at the bible as a thing I have to believe every word of, and instead as another thing to explore?”

shoreline of rocks with lake behind, and row of forest/trees in distance with cloudy evening sky above. I am opening my eyes to exploring.  Really, everything above: from exercise and nutrition and writing and meditation and creating things and being connected–owning my life, in other words–is all about exploring. Discovering where the map for this season, this chapter leads me. Where I am going and how I am going to interact with what surrounds me. It is all about choice.

So why am I not choosing these things? Because it’s work. It means changing myself within my circumstance in tandem with accepting where I’m at. Yet, I know this is important, and that I should make these smallish huge acts of self-care a priority. I can create excuses but I can also create change. And I know my body, and my spiritual and mental wellbeing will thank me for one far more than the other.

I need, though, to stop trying to do this on my own. Because my excuses to remain stuck sound a lot less dumb in my head and I should be forced to admit them more often.

You took me / straight to the Healer / You were my believer / when I couldn’t even see it for myself / and now I’m whole, I can feel it / now I can see it / when I couldn’t even say it for myself / You said “it’s time to be well”

The people I’ve coached to make positive life changes… I have always told them to do it with someone. I have frequently volunteered to be that person. Time to take my own advice ;). Sometimes, an app is not enough–positive peer pressure can be.

the young want to change the world
the wise want to change themselves
the young want to change the world
but i just want to change myself.

spent, let it happen (spotify link)

For now, this season, I need to change myself.
Again. Continually.

Cabin to left side, flowers focused in foreground with lake and trees behind in distance, unfocused.
it is time to be well.
it is time to grow.

smart girls with adhd (and a story)

Within the last few days, I’ve become connected with Beth of Smart Girls with ADHD.

And let me say… I LOVE THIS.

People with ADHD are usually creative, idea generators, outside-the-box thinkers, and… yes, SMART!

The hard part is, often, we don’t feel like we’re smart. I sometimes feel like all of the awesome associated with having ADHD has been overshadowed by the struggles I experience because of ADHD. I’ve said it many times: I am relieved I can explain some of my quirks through disclosing my ADHD… but, in no way do I wish to become defined by it—nor do I want to use it as an excuse. ADHD is a part of me—I’m okay with talking about it, self advocating: I say it frequently on #LDchat: put it in terms people understand, in context. Situation + adaptation.

“I have ADHD[/learning issues], and [in x situation], I may need [y adaptation].”

I have ADHD and learning issues, and when learning a new skill, I may need the steps written down.

I have ADHD, and in a long lecture, I may need to quietly slip out to go do a few flights of stairs.

I have ADHD, and it helps me to study with earphones in so I can block out the external noise and focus on only one source of sound—yes, seriously.

I have learning issues, so if you can provide visual information to me in words, this works a lot better for me.

I have ADHD, and I sometimes get overwhelmed in large group conversations. I may need to ask for clarification. I have processing speed issues, so sometimes I need to jump back a few bullet points to catch up.

I have learning issues affecting my visual memory—this makes me terrible at names, so please remind me of yours and I’ll keep trying!

I will keep trying.

Another real life story:
A few weeks ago, I went into work, and was told we didn’t have a paper schedule for the tennis matches for the day. I usually use my paper schedule to write down court numbers and check in players so all the information is right in front of me, but I figured it was a good learning opportunity to try to be efficient using the computer. I did okay but struggled a bit. The next day, I opted to print my own schedule of the matches (to alter!) to help keep me organized—except, I failed to cross-check with the computer, and told a doubles team to come at the wrong time as based on my paper schedule. Let’s say their opponents weren’t impressed, but thankfully didn’t ream me out!

That’s when it’s hard: when I try my hardest to be smart. To work with it. To work with what I know is a challenge for me, and then I still mess up.

Yet, being diagnosed with ADHD was what taught me I am not stupid. As a girl with ADHD, I don’t present the same way as boys do: I’m not necessarily hyper—or not hyper in the same ways; I’m not loud when I’m not supposed to be; I can often sit for long periods of time—sometimes I can be lucky enough to hyperfocus when it’s opportune. But just because it doesn’t look like what people perceive ADHD as, doesn’t mean I don’t have it. Just because people see me as smart, just because I seem to be doing well, just because, because, BECAUSE… doesn’t mean anything. I compensate to make things work—sometimes I don’t even think about it—but I put more effort into a LOT of things than people would ever guess to make it look like I’ve got it together.

It took my ADHD diagnosis to realize I’m not stupid.

To phrase that again:

Being diagnosed with ADHD taught me I am smart.

And I will keep trying.

 

Thanks to Beth for making me an admin of the Smart Girls with ADHD Facebook group. If you’re a woman with ADHD, I hope you’ll join us!

purple [surprisingly not-fail] cookies

I don’t consider myself a baker (and I especially don’t consider myself a cook). But sometimes I find recipes online that seem basically too good to be true that they are THAT SIMPLE. And I have to try them.

Today like two weeks ago when I started this post was a variation on “Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake Cookies” from Wine and Glue.

Except not cinnamon roll and not cheesecake.

That would be too easy, right? [Also does cheesecake pudding even exist in Canada?]

So, because I can’t adhere to the prescribed ingredient list, despite that only three things were listed, we got this:

  • 1 package sugar cookie mix plus the ingredients to make the cookies
  • 1 package of Cinnamon Roll Flavor Creations from Duncan Hines
    • INSTEAD: 1 package of White Chocolatey Raspberry Frosting Creations Mix from Duncan Hines.
  • 1 box of Cheesecake Flavor Pudding mix (just the dry mix)
    • Omitted. Because I thought I had
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

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And yes, they were too sweet, but no, they were actually not terrible. And very soft.

I’ll cut back on sugar next time and probably not use raspberry.
(Caramel might be good, though.)

#gskAsthmaSummit: building bridges for asthma care | denver, co – a recap.

Two weeks ago, I went to Denver.
(By the time I’m getting this published, it’s been two weeks.) The time was packed, let me tell you. (I told my friend Sam everything I did when I was there and she was like “How long were you gone for?” and I was like “Left Monday morning, came back Tuesday night.” and she was like “…I thought you were gone for like, a few days with everything you did.” Nah, just didn’t sleep. Actually I did. A bit. More on that below.)

So, I’m gonna take you back to the GSK Asthma Summit. (And stuff. A lot of stuff.) [Previous post: my thoughts on GSK {/pharma} + patients].

Monday.
I woke up and saw this on my deck.

IMG_0445.JPG(Also I had to wake up at 6 AM for my flight, unlike my last flight where I had to be on the plane at 5:15 AM. Beautiful.)

Then I saw more snow at the airport.

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The snow probably came from Colorado.

Just putting that out there.

IMG_0448.JPGPeople tried to explain to me that I was not actually in the USA and Canada at the same time. I fail to understand how this works, because while the airport may think I am in the USA after I pass this door, I could jump back out the window and be in Canada. Because, there’s snow out there.

 

 

IMG_0450.JPGThen I got on a plane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On another point, my CLEARLY OVERSIZED BAG fit in the carry on sizer. Easily.

 

 

 

Then I got on a plane.

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and they sprayed my plane with green goo to de-ice. (Yes. Because we have to de-ice in May up in these parts. Thanks, Colorado.)

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 This dude is sleeping with his stuff in a very precarious position. The flight attendant seemed confused.

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And then I landed in this field that looked like a farm, and it turned out I was in Denver, so I met Dia by the giant statue of a potted plant (I expected it to be more giant, actually. It wasn’t worth photographing, I guess.) Dia is my Canadian asthma advocacy partner-in-crime, and the current Chair of the National Asthma Patient Alliance Executive. (And also she and I have seen each other every second Monday for the past six weeks and next Monday is going to break our streak.)

Dia and I took a cab downtown to the Hyatt Regency at Colorado Convention Centre where the American Thoracic Society conference was taking place (note: we didn’t get to go in, except once Dia tried to wander past the passes-only area. She was unsuccessful.)

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Dia and I met Dr. Dilini Vethanayagam, a respirologist from University of Alberta, Edmonton, who has special interest in severe asthma (and working with the Canadian Severe Asthma Network [CSAN]) almost as soon as we made it downtown. This is the thirty fourth floor lounge at the Hyatt, where Dilini took us to hang out—it’s always fantastic to finally meet someone in person after—at this point—a half dozen phone calls (or more?) and a few years worth of e-mails. Dia and I learned more about the state of the research study I’m working on with U of A, and where CSAN is at.

After meeting with Dilini, Dia and I headed over to the ATS Conference, or as far into it as we could get, anyways. Dia was in heaven as she picked up 20 pounds of respiratory journals to take home with her, and we visited the Canadian Lung Association table. You know, after Dia tried to sneak into the badge area…

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We also took a selfie at a selfie station to win a prize pack. (I think we didn’t win. I’m also unsure why I look more excited than Dia, because Dia is actually probably way more excited than me at this point because she has an armful of medical journals and she likes smart things…)IMG_0506.JPG

Wearing my Badassmatic shirt. Except I lost Dia’s challenge and didn’t get any pictures with asthma doctors with it on…

And then we got popcorn before meeting Dr. Sally Wenzel from University of Pittsburgh, and the Severe Asthma Research Program. (You might remember Sally from a previous asthma adventure to the World Congress of Asthma in Quebec City in 2012. We failed to get a picture with her, but it was great to be able chat with her before a presentation for 15 minutes!)

Now, enter my American asthma advocacy partner-in-crime, Steve (it took his cab an eon to get from the airport to the hotel, but he made it!)

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AND, his Boston Marathon racewalking partner-in-crime, Lis, whom I was also meeting for the first time… not that you’d be able to tell…

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…The first picture…

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Now, I’ve known Lis online for a good five years now, and in person she is every bit as energetic (to put it mildly) and passionate as I would have imagined (look, these words are failing to explain her adequately, so let’s just say she is this wild force of awesome, and you’ll have to meet her yourself!). We also met up with Sheila, another asthmatic in Denver (Lis was the odd one out—though she was initially misdiagnosed with asthma, and is since doing a LOT better since confirming she has vocal cord dysfunction! :].) Lis lead the way to Mellow Mushroom Pizza because Dia and I were kind of starving at this point and Steve liked the name (and so began my first of two pizzas in about 4 hours..!)

After food, Sheila, Steve, Dia and I grabbed the free bus back to the hotel, Dia and I got our stuff from storage at the Hyatt, and we parted ways with Sheila and headed to the hotel via Uber.

So, know what rocks about travelling with people with asthma?

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This—if you’re unfamiliar, the missing ingredient would be the nebulizer tubing, AKA the piece that connects the nebulizer to the compressor making it useful…

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Yeah, the three of us all travel with the same compressors/tubing… I headed across the hall to Dia’s room instead of upstairs to Steve’s. Really, I did not feel super terrible except elevation probably + fragrant people exposure + hotel under construction = kind of a perfect storm. I did another treatment the next morning, but upon landing back at home I was breathing easy again. Denver = weird. Which I was told to anticipate.

Then we went to dinner at Piatti and met the other two bloggers attending, Juan and Karen from GSK, and Samantha and Minyan from Golin, the PR company working with GSK. I rolled onto my second pizza of the day (margherita, and not just cheese ;)). And then Steve, sneaky friend that he is, made this happen…

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This was Monday. My birthday wasn’t until Thursday (oh, hey, I’m 24 now..!), so I was more than a little shocked/confused for a moment! So, Steve dropped the word because he wanted to buy a cake but then basically GSK stole his idea ;).

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How freaking beautiful is this cake?!

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Then we returned to the hotel, where I had to go get new room keys (because, no, I can’t just forget my room keys when I go to the pool with Goalball Steve [as opposed to California Steve] and Gerry in Toronto, I forget them in Denver, too. Fortunately I had ID this time. Steve, Dia and I went and hung out in my room after I got new keys, and when Steve and I walked in, I found this… (Well, it was in the bag at the time!)

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Yes, Ms. Lizzy (Lis) and Doc Boots strike again! Pineapple Fanta and Jarritos! (Complete with bubble wrap so I could get it back home in my then-checked backpack!) Lis knew it was my mission to get my hands on some Pineapple Fanta while in Denver, and… there it was, complete with puppy birthday card!  Steve got to work using some surface or another in the bathroom as a bottle opener, and Dia went to get ice (I am the lazy one who only tore the paper cups out of their plastic wrapping and poured the bottle of soda into cups ;).) Dia and Steve got into some scientific discussion about mast cells over Pineapple Fanta while I stared at the curtains (aka not the mountains. The hotel claimed mountain view but they were VERY FAR AWAY) cluelessly.

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Eventually we all went to bed (I did my bedtime reading from GSK with a side of GSK Ventolin): I sort of slept. Steve did not sleep. Dia actually slept. I sent Steve my sleep graph in an early morning text message.

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Tuesday.

Sometime around six I went and hung out in Steve’s room (note: Steve and I are polar opposites in the regard to Hotel Room TV. He always has his TV on. I never do. When I was in California, he was the one who turned my TV on, and I turned it off when he left). Dia decided to test out the 24-hour-Starbucks-theory (as she told us) and headed over to Starbucks nearby, after coming up to Steve’s room to pick up my phone with which she bought me hot chocolate. (…Yes, look, this is how awesome my friends are, and how lazy I am early in the morning. But mostly how awesome Dia is).

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Is it tag-team nebbing if you part ways to do treatments? 😉 I Instagrammed this picture with the caption “I get by with a little help from my friends—and their nebulizer tubing.” I usually only do treatments when I am tight enough for it to be really bothering me, but like the night previous, I was kind of not wanting to cough through dinner with GSK, nor did I want to sound more asthmatic than my usual cough during the event. Also, look, the things I do as a patient always come with a stupid side of asthma, and that is annoying, but a reminder that yeah this disease sucks but I get to do cool things because of it sometimes, and more-so because of the fact that I try not to complain about it and just live my life and coexist with my asthma.
Plus I always feel way better after even if I don’t think I reallyyyy need a treatment that much.
Plus also Dia made me laugh while taking this picture as she arrived at my room mid-treatment and probably yelled “housekeeping”. Steve also came [post-treatment] and did not yell housekeeping and just knocked like people sort of usually do. Then we went downstairs into the construction zone to get in the Ubers to go to Columbine Elementary School (for those wondering, no, this is not near Columbine High School), for the GSK Building Bridges for Asthma Care event.

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Here’s Steve and I being sleepy in the Uber SUV.
We are good shoulder sleeping heights for each other.

 (Photo Credit to Erin Guthrie/GSK)
 
Welcome to Columbine Elementary School

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With that, here are some slightly-dated demographics of the students at Columbine Elementary School to provide a bigger picture.
CES demos

Being mindful that I do not have a proficient understanding of the American public school system or its subprograms, I deferred the interpretation of this to my friend Kat. She explained that “92% of the families [in the area] make less than 185% of the federal poverty line; [about] $40K for a family of four,” and thus qualify for subsidized or free school lunches. (Note that in Canada we have no such national programs.) She continued to say that “In general, [with] that high of a percentage, it would be fair to categorize the neighbourhood as poor-to-working-class [living paycheck] to paycheck.” The schools the Building Bridges Program was run in had been referred to as inner city schools, and Kat’s explanation of the socioeconomic status relevant stat above helped clarify that to me.

I want to quote what Steve wrote before going any further:

So, do the big drug companies have a vested interest in helping these types of programs succeed and seeing the absenteeism rates drop? Would this type of program increase their inhaler sales? I seriously doubt it. Even the big bad drug companies do good things once and in a while and I think this is a perfect example of that.

This. And, like I said in my previous post linked above, I think it’s time we give pharma a lot more credit.

The Building Bridges program aims, in short, to decrease school absenteeism in kids with asthma—and through this, their parents are able to more consistently attend work. If we’re talking families that may already struggle financially, this becomes even more important. We’ll now break to a video. Because this is what they are doing:

This.

high five

This means that this little girl was in school on Tuesday.
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Didn’t take much more than saying “I have asthma, too” to get a smile and a high-five from Countess!
This means her mom (Qyanisha, in the video) is able to work regularly. It means she could take time off to attend this event without worrying about her daughter. It means that less children and families are living similar stories—it means the core aspect of a child’s life is able to flip from asthma to school, just like every other kid.
While I said I had wished there was a kid on the panel (and I’m happy I got to meet Countess!), we heard from a bunch of amazing medical providers working with the Building Bridges program. I’ve Storified the event, so you can scroll through. I have to say though, that Donna Sparks, RN, was my favourite speaker of the day—
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—I’ve nicknamed her Cheerleader Nurse Donna in my head.
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(We are purple under the stage lights?)
Another huge connection I hadn’t made previously, that Donna made (can I say again that this woman is awesome? Super Nurse Donna fan club, people): because these kids can be in school, they can stay in school. Donna underscored that if kids can stay in school, they can finish school—they can decrease their risk of becoming involved in crime by finishing school. I hadn’t thought of a link between asthma/absenteeism/deviance before: I just threw “asthma and crime” into Google Scholar: 34,200 results. Whether this is because inner-city areas seem to have higher rates of both asthma and crime, or because of issues pertaining to health care access, or because of algorithms, or actually because kids with asthma may miss more school and become frustrated and then turn to crime for psychosocial/socioeconomic reasons (or other cyclic things like that), is not super clear, of course, but here are some snippets (they are a bit long, so if you are not into academic reading, just read the first one and skip the bullets, okay? Don’t leave me hanging!)
  • The first concludes: “Evidence suggests an association between violent crime and childhood asthma prevalence in Chicago.” (Gupta et al., 2010)
  • Another:
    Results: […] Among African-American patients, age and residential crime rates were positively and negatively assicated with ICS [inhaled corticosteroid] adherence, respectively. Area crime remained a predictor of adherence in African american patients, even after adjusting for multiple measures of SES [socioeconomic status].
    Conclusions: This study suggests that an environmental stressor, area crime, provides additional predictive insight into ICS-adherent behaviour beyond typical SES factors.
     (Williams et al., 2007). (Note: Remember that ICS use is positively correlated with asthma control, and that non-adherence can negatively affect asthma outcomes. Also that these drugs are quite expensive, especially in places like the US).
  • And, yet another (also nothing the use of “may” doesn’t mean that this is untrue, it just means that, as an instructor once told me, that especially in health, research never really ‘proves’ anything, only suggests potentials—as per point #1 up there, and the most recent of the articles cited):

Increasingly, studies have begun to explore the effect of living in a violent environment, with a chronic pervasive atmosphere of fear and the perceived or real threat of violence, on health outcomes in population-based studies. Violence exposure may contribute to environmental demands that tax both the individual and the communities in which they live to impact the inner-city asthma burden. At the individual level, intervention strategies aimed to reduce violence exposure, to reduce stress, or to counsel victims or witnesses to violence may be complementary to more traditional asthma treatment in these populations. Change in policies that address the social, economic, and political factors that contribute to crime and violence in urban America may have broader impact. (Wright and Steinbach, 2001).

So, yes: this understanding/hypothesizing has gone back to at least 2001—and probably way before. Many programs in the US are working to this phenomenon, and I am happy that Building Bridges is among them—and, I hope it is able to expand to other schools. Because if one thing—asthma control, both in the sense of actual control of the disease and reclaiming the feelings of these kids that they can do anything… can lead to a ripple effect of good things.

The coolest thing about this event, I think, was that it was ensured that we got there early enough to meet the speakers, and that they so wanted to speak to the bloggers attending. That doesn’t happen at every event. The event organizers also had a fantastically sized gap between the end of the presentations and lunch that people started to mingle, and then carried on their discussions over lunch—an amazing transition, even if it was not planned! As soon as the event ended, I also got flagged down to meet Qyanisha and have a direct conversation with her about how the program has impacted her and her daughter—prior to connecting with five or so others just on my way up to my bag at the back of the room, I returned to this scene:

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Dia doing what she does best, asking great questions to Sheila—an asthma counsellor with Colorado Children’s Hospital—regarding parental buy-in to the Building Bridges program and how they deal with resistance to engagement and alternative therapy use—which is by educating without being forceful.

We flowed through chatting with a bunch of people in attendance, and then into the line for lunch and up to the tables on stage—I won’t lie, another huge highlight was spending lunch with the school nurses and asking their questions about blogging, while passing my phone over to show them my blog! How cool is that? I had to heckle Steve to make his way to the blogger debrief table because people were so interested in his awesomeness that they wouldn’t really let him escape ;).

Andrea (left-back), Katrina (right-back)
Dia, myself (duh :]), Stephen

Below, same, with Karen and Juan from GSK. 

Photo credit to GSK/Erin Guthrie on Photobucket.

The blogger roundtable was a great way to wrap up the morning with Juan and Karen. We basically had an open Q&A with them about what they can do better for patients (drug ads. make better drug ads, guys!), and other ways they can make the patient connection better. Can we go back to my post from prior to the event for a second? They. Are. Trying. Effort takes time. I realize that working in communications, Juan and Karen are just doing their jobs, but, people don’t get jobs that require high amounts of talking to other people if they don’t want to change things—that’s just kind of the way extroverts are. I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes next for the asthma community through pharma working towards bridging the gaps […no Building Bridges pun intended!] with patients and—I hope—implementing our suggestions, showing us progress, and not just letting the roundtable be a one-day, in-person thing.

Because whether we’re selfie-ing in an Uber…

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(Karen, Juan, myself, and Dia’s eye.)
Or trying to get our own Uber for the first time…

…Or laughing at this sign for whatever reason…

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…Navigating this security line with our plethora of medications and neb compressors…

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We have a lot of things that, together, we want to make better

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(or at least suck less?)

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“Not a doubt in my mind anymore, there’s a storm up ahead.
Hello hurricane [tornado?], you’re not enough. Hello hurricane, you can’t silence my love
I’ve got doors and windows boarded up, all your dead end fury’s not enough
you can’t silence my love. […]
I’m a fighter, fighting for control—I’m a fighter, fighting my soul,
Every thing inside of me surrenders: you can’t silence my love.”
Hello Hurricane, Switchfoot.

(Asthma is kind of the storm—the kickass friends who dare to do something about it are the shelter.) 

Yet, we prove every damn time we’re together, that we’re about far more than asthma

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(Before, one by one, we departed—Steve, then Dia, then myself—
Denver International Airport) 

but most importantly: together or apart;
advocating purposefully or just living our lives that happen to include asthma…

We are still here. We sill want to share.

Disclosure: GlaxoSmithKline United States paid for/is reimbursing all costs associated with attending the GSK Asthma Summit, including roundtrip airfare to/from Denver, CO, hotel, ground transportation and meals [and phone expenses?! And for my checked bag after I got gifted Pineapple Fanta?!]. I was not required to blog or share on social media about the GSK Asthma Summit, nor do they pay me to do so (nor do they affect the content I produce in this post, or in the futureor the past, I guess.)